While earlier research has revealed how too much sugar harms the body through its role in diabetes, obesity and fatty liver, this study is the first to uncover how the sweetener influences the brain.
The researchers were studying the impact of too much sugar with high-fructose corn syrup in particular on rats, who have similar brain chemistry to humans.
The inexpensive liquid is six times sweeter than cane sugar and is commonly added to processed foods such as soft drinks.
It is a healthy suggestion to stay off from the sweet stuff because it contains high amounts of fructose which slows the brain that could make you dull according to researchers.
The suggestion follows tests in the laboratory comparing high-fructose corn syrup, which is six times sweeter than cane sugar and a common ingredient in processed foods, with omega-3 fatty acids, known to aid memory and learning.
At the start of the study, published in the Journal of Physiology, the University of California team tested how well the rats navigated a maze, placing landmarks to help them learn the way.
In that rats’ experiment, one group had a sugary diet for six weeks and another was fed healthily.
Six weeks later, the researchers tested the rats’ ability to recall the route.
Study co-author Professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla said the rats fed just a sugary diet were slower and their brains had declined.
He said, ‘Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information.
However, the good news is that eating nuts and fish such as salmon can counteract this disruption.
‘Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,’ said Prof Gomez-Pinilla. ‘Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.’
Professor Gomez-Pinilla recommends naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which contain relevant antioxidants.
According to him he is concerned about ‘high-fructose corn syrup that is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative.’
A closer look at the rats’ brain tissue suggested that insulin had lost much of its power to influence the brain cells.
The authors suspect that eating too much sugar like fructose could block insulin’s ability to regulate how cells use and store sugar for the energy required for processing thoughts and emotions.